Sometimes I get scared by all the descriptors before a dessert. Some other times I remember lactose and gluten are the Regina George of ingredients to my belly.
After seeing Carolyn’s dairy-free apple cake from heaven (which I made with GF flour and loved and consumed within hours), I set off to record my own little piece of delicious gluten-free, dairy free paradise. Also, Carolyn requested it in all caps and I couldn’t say no to that.
What I love about this recipe is that if you don’t like the cheesecake concept you can just make the filling and use it however you want. When I’m feeling like a cheesecake has three too many steps, I make the filling and use it as fruit dip, or as the substitute to my granola with yogurt snack in the afternoon. Also, you can personalize the whole thing to your taste. I made this a layered vanilla with half strawberry and half vegan chocolate ganache to show you all the tricks at once.
Fear not, I made this in the kitchen of my new place, which means I made it using only the assorted glassware that survived the move, a Talenti Gelato container, a silver spoon and a borrowed Ninja blender. If I and my untested kitchen skills could make it to impress someone in my book club, so can you.
For the crust:
3/4 cup dried shredded unsweetened coconut
9 Pitted dates
1 cup Raw almonds
For the filling:
2 1/2 cups raw cashews (soaked for at least 8 hours, trust me on this)
2 tsps vanilla
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
Splash of lemon juice
For the strawberry half (optional):
For the chocolate ganache (optional, but why wouldn’t you?):
2 cups chocolate chips
~2/3 cup coconut milk
1. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the coconut on the springform pan — or not, I like the little coconut shreds. Place the rest of the dried coconut, dates and almonds in a food processor and just go at it until it all looks evenly chopped. Chunky crust will take less chopping than a finer one, so chop the mix for longer if you’d like it to be smoother. The consistency of this crust is going to be crumbly, add more dates to the mix if you’d like it to be a little less so. Place the mix on the springform pan and pat it down evenly.
2. Place cashews in a food processor and puree them. Add the lemon juice, vanilla, olive oil and sugar to the cashews. Blend it all together. You want the mix to be as smooth as possible — this will take a few minutes, so I used the time to wash some of the bowls where I had all the ingredients a second ago.
3. Once the filling is all mixed and smooth, pour only about 2/3 of the mix onto the crust. Even it out with a spatula or a spoon if you have as many utensils as I have. Place it in the freezer for about 15 min. Add strawberries to the remaining filling and blend it all. Pour it in a glass container to keep and wash the food processor immediately.
4. Make the chocolate ganache. Take 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chips and pour enough coconut milk until to cover. Just like with the chocolate coating for that matzo recipe, go ahead and melt it all together in a double boiler. Once everything is melted and combined, set it aside and add the rest of the chocolate chips to temper it. Keep stirring until the rest of the chocolate chips are melted.
Now for the triple threat part:
1. Set the strawberry filling and the chocolate ganache next to each other. Take the cake from the freezer and lean it towards a side while you pour the strawberry mix, trying to keep it towards one half of the cake. As you set the cake down, start pouring the chocolate ganache on the other half; it will push against the strawberry portion and even out with the help of your handy spoon.
2. Put the cake in the fridge and let it sit for about an hour before serving. The strawberry part will keep best if frozen; freeze the cake for an hour for prettier presentation. Just run a knife under warm water when you’re ready to serve it, it’ll make cutting the cake 10x easier. Just choose freezer or fridge according to your preferred texture.
Tips & Substitutions I’ve tried before:
- You can substitute olive oil with melted coconut oil. Most recipes call for coconut oil, I just happened to be out of it and olive oil worked just as well.
- You can substitute coconut milk with almond milk creamer and the almonds for the crust with any other hard nut, like macadamia or pecans.
- For an actual raw vanilla version, just substitute sugar with agave or raw honey.
- If you/your roommates/the person you have a crush on have a Vita-Mix, go get it (yes, I just gave you an
excuse reason to text your crush).